How To Motivate Others: 2 Approaches For Motivation

Teamwork by pmbbun (Pixabay)

Teamwork by pmbbun (Pixabay)

Do you like to issue orders at work?

Unless you’re in the military and blessed with the presence of George Washington, simply issuing commands and orders to others is unlikely to be successful in today’s workplace.

Motivating people at work is one of the greatest professional challenges we face in the world of work. Over time, the best psychological and management thinkers have come up with several answers. In today’s post, I will review the principles we use to motivate others to get work done. From time to time, we can all benefit from studying foundational ideas.

Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation: Hygiene and Motivating Factors

In my study of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), I came across Frederick Herzberg’s famous theory. The theory was presented in a 1959 book called “The Motivation to Work” and it has become a mainstay of management thought. In essence, the theory suggests that motivation is shaped by two types of factors: hygiene factors and motivators.

Just as personal hygiene is a basic building block of health, Herzberg’s hygiene factors are the basic building block of motivation. Under this category, management provides a safe work environment, reasonable policies and procedures and compensation. This category also includes the attitude and behavior of the supervisor or manager. Without these factors in place, motivation will rapidly start to decline. A lack of hygiene factors tends to generate significant complaints.

In contrast, motivating factors in Herzberg’s framework speak to different needs. Motivators include interesting work, a sense of personal growth, recognition and achievement. Performing work with significant motivating factors doesn’t quite seem like traditional work. As Dan Rockwell writes, “You don’t have to pressure people to do what interests them.”

Management Application

To achieve ideal results, Herzberg’s theory recommends combining high hygiene and high motivation. Unfortunately, a manager or a project manager may not be able to influence all of these factors at any given time. However, there are several factors under your control that will increase motivation. Improving your attitude sets the tone of the workplace – that’s an important hygiene factor under your influence. You can also set ground rules that encourage teamwork – another hygiene factor. For motivating factors, I suggest looking at work assignments with two objectives in mind: completing project work and providing staff growth.

 Dan Pink’s DRIVE Model

“When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system–which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators–doesn’t work and often does harm.” – Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink’s approach to motivation was referenced in my post last week: Why Motivating Yourself Matters and How To Do It. His approach emphasizes three factors: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. It is an excellent model and it taps into a trend that I have noted in several recent books such as Robert Greene’s book Mastery (which looks at the development of masters in fields such as art, science, technology and business). I also detect some overlap between Pink’s approach and Herzberg’s motivating factors. The value of the book really lies in the details which I will explore below.

Management Application

  • Money motivation: money is a good motivation factor when the work is dull and/or requires very little creative input. As technology continues to improve, the percentage of people employed in truly dull and uncreative roles will continue to decline.
  • Managing boring tasks. Acknowledge that some tasks are boring and point out how they contribute to the larger purpose of the work.
  • Consider the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) approach. This novel approach proposes throwing away traditional controls such as set work hours and simply ask staff to deliver results. According to the ROWE organization, this approach can be implemented by whole organizations (e.g. ChoiceTranslating, Matchbox Publishing, 33 Talent) and at the departmental level (e.g. Corporate Marketing at Russell Investments).
  • Use a “Don’t” List to increase focus on your purpose. Staying motivated is difficult when you have an endless amount of tasks to complete. A don’t list is a tool to help you eliminate activities that are no longer relevant.
  • Be mindful of shortcuts and incentives. Consider this a cautionary observation about the drawbacks of offering very strong incentives (e.g. the annual bonus payments that dwarf all other forms of compensation). In Pink’s research, offering very strong incentives may lead to immoral shortcuts.
  • Praise strategy and effort rather than intelligence. This insight comes out of the excellent research presented in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. Praising effort generally encourages people to continue working and striving while praising intelligence tends to undermine motivation.

For further background on Pink’s model, I suggest reading his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Alternately, you can watch his TED presentation called, “The Puzzle of Motivation.”

Discussion Question:

What strategies do you use to motivate others?

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